It was not an auspicious start to the day. The past few days had been sunny, if still rather chilly since spring had come late that year, but now it was raining steadily. Bilbo Baggins looked out onto the pathway which led to the front gate of Erebor and sighed. Dis and the company of dwarves she was leading would be arriving that afternoon, and would be formally welcomed in, but if the weather continued it would be a very bedraggled group who arrived, and they would not be wanting to stand around to be welcomed.
Bilbo decided to speak to Balin, to see if the welcome could take place somewhere inside instead. He imagined the thought had already occurred to the dwarf, but it wouldn’t hurt for Bilbo to be aware of any change to the arrangements.
For that wasn’t going to be the main problem. The real problem was Thorin, who was insisting he was going to welcome his sister and fellow dwarves in full regalia. Which sounded wonderful in theory, but when Thorin still tired after standing for ten minutes watching his nephews work through their exercises, and therefore had to sit down, it was totally impractical.
Bilbo had gone as far as suggesting to Oin that he drug Thorin so that he slept through the arrival, but Oin had declared that even were he prepared to treat his king in that way, which he wasn’t, the consequences, when Thorin found out what had happened, weren’t to be contemplated.
Fili and Kili were equally adamant they would play their part in the welcome, even though they too still lacked strength. It was possible that they could be made to see reason given a suitable combination of Balin’s alternative suggestions and Dwalin physically restraining them, but if Thorin wasn’t going to lead by example, there was little point in pursuing that argument.
Everyone agreed Thorin did not have the strength to go through with a formal welcome, everyone except Thorin himself. In the end they had managed to persuade Thorin that, if he was determined to pursue his foolhardy intentions, he would at least spend the morning resting in bed. Of course, the only way to ensure Thorin did this was if someone, Bilbo, sat with him, and therefore, having looked out at the rain, Bilbo hurried to Thorin’s chamber to do just that.
Bilbo set his chair next to Thorin’s bed and began to describe the feast Bombur was overseeing for the celebration that evening. He hoped that by doing so Thorin would fall asleep for a while, as he did sometimes, but there was no chance of that happening that morning. They moved onto the garments Thorin was planning to wear, and Bilbo turned the conversation to what would be deemed appropriate for him to wear. He had been accepted as Thorin’s partner, but as yet no formal declaration had been made, Thorin being keen his sister should be present when that happened.
Thorin had started describing various possibilities, when there was a soft knock on the door.
“Come in,” Bilbo called.
Thorin scowled, and Bilbo presumed he was expecting someone else who was going to try to reason with him about the afternoon.
However, the dwarf who entered was no-one Bilbo had seen before.
“Dis!” Thorin exclaimed. He tried to sit up.
“Do not move an inch, brother,” Dis said firmly. “I understand you are supposed to be resting, and therefore that is what you will continue to do.”
Bilbo went to stand but Dis turned to him.
“Please do not leave on my account, Mr Baggins. From all I’ve been told your presence will help convince my entirely pig-headed brother that the revised arrangements I am making will be far more appropriate.”
“Thank you, Lady Dis. And please call me Bilbo.”
“And call me Dis.”
“Do I get a say?” Thorin muttered.
“You may say you agree when I’ve outlined the arrangements, but not till then,” Dis said firmly. “Right, now, instead of the formal welcome outside, we shall be in the great hall, and you and I will be seated on thrones side by side. Bilbo will stand on your right. You will be able to wear formal indoor robes which will be considerably lighter than those you intended to wear. Are you happy with this?”
“I suppose so,” Thorin said grudgingly, but Bilbo spotted a certain relief in his eyes.
“And are you happy too, Bilbo?” Dis asked.
“I’m happy with that,” Bilbo replied. “But what about Fili and Kili, they were looking forward to playing their part.”
“Which they will be doing. Fili will have a chair to my left and Kili will stand behind him. This means Fili will not need to use his stick and Kili can lean on the chair if he gets tired.”
“That sounds perfect,” Bilbo said.
“I thought so,” Dis agreed.
“It does sound like you’ve thought this through,” Thorin said. “And in the circumstances, I have no objection.”
“Good. Now, let me tell you about some of the developments we’ve had since I last wrote.” Dis began to describe her recent travels, and Thorin and Bilbo listened.
After a while, Bilbo noticed Thorin had fallen asleep, looking far less stressed than he had done for the last few days. Dis beckoned to Bilbo and they quietly left the room.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t let you know about the change of plans,” Dis said, once the door was shut. “We couldn’t risk it.”
“That’s all right,” Bilbo replied. “I understand.” He did feel rather hurt that they hadn’t trusted him, but he knew dwarves were secretive.
“It was nothing like what I suspect you are thinking. Thorin is very shrewd, and you spend much more time with him than anyone else does. If you had known, and he even suspected something, he would have had time to come up with various reasons why we couldn’t proceed, whereas this way he had no option but to agree. Oh, by the way, I understand you haven’t yet made the official announcement regarding your relationship.”
“No, your brother was keen you be present before he did.”
“In which case, I’m afraid I must ask you to wait a little longer.” Bilbo tried not to look upset and Dis laughed. “Bombur is going to want to produce a spectacular feast for when you do, and that will take time to prepare. You wouldn’t want to disappoint him, would you?”
Bilbo joined in the laughter. “Of course not. These things do need to be done in the proper way.